Living Through Loss
For my age, I have been through a lot. That's what people say anyway, but I don't think that "a lot" can quite justify the hollow emptiness that often engulfs me in my nightmares.
This emptiness has not been created by the loss of a boyfriend, and don't worry, Taylor Swift is still alive and well. This emptiness has been created by the loss of my step-mom, Martha.
The vastness of this emptiness that she has left, shows just how far away she was from the hollywood cliché of the wicked stepmother. True, I don't remember my parents ever being together. So it never seemed like Martha was replacing my Mom or anything. Even if I did remember, it wouldn't have changed anything; because when my dad and Martha looked at each other, you knew nothing about it was cliché.
One of the best things about it was that Martha had always said that when she had married my Dad, she had married me too. It wasn't like I was just along for the ride, she was "My Martha" too.
Another amazing thing about Martha was that she was a fighter. Not only did she do Taek Wan Do, but she also gave cancer one hell of a fight. And the best part was that she didn't become engulfed by cancer. When you thought of Martha you didn't think of "that women with cancer", you all but forgot about it. A thing that many people struggle with. She overcame cancer with her fiery personality, and she made a point of it. Not even after twenty two years of being riddled with a disease, did she look tired. Unfortunately, after twenty three years with the disease, she did.
I try to think about all the times she called me "Munchkin" but instead I am hit with a crystal clear image of her telling me the bad news. Her voice waking me up in the mornings is slowly fading away, but that memory of her telling me that it was all over, remains perfectly clear, as if it was enhanced by the pain and the fear of what was to come.
I now think that I was selfish thinking that she could win again, just like she always had. But it wasn't fair that I didn't realise what was happening sooner. In my defence, I was only thirteen.
The day she told me, I knew that something was wrong. I didn't quite admit it to myself, but I knew. When I walked into my former home, I noticed that she looked very yellow and I partly wondered what kind of tan she was using. Except this wasn't the works of Garnier self tan or some cheap Sally Hansen, this was liver failure. Ignorance is bliss.
The following weeks passed in a blur with only small moments standing out. These were the weeks where the hollowness started to form as Martha slipped further and further away from me. And on the 30th of April 2012 at 3:06am, my dad told her that was time to let go, and she did.
At 7:30 on that day, I woke up expecting to be driven down to school. I remained still for a moment and listened for Martha's breathing. Maybe it was Martha just trying to let me live inside my ignorant bubble for a few extra minutes, but I convinced myself that I heard it. But that bliss ended when I stepped into the kitchen and I was told that she was gone by my dad, who no longer seemed like my parent in that moment but apart of a team that had lost his partner.
Those few weeks made me the person I am today, as I was forced to mature within a very short space of time. I was now the one minding my dad, just as I promised Martha I would do. I helped my Dad navigate his way around the kitchen as he seemed lost looking for the butter, without having anyone to ask.
Even though I said that these weeks of my life made me into the person I am today, they have no comparison to the impact that Martha had on my life. I would know nothing without her, and my childhood seems like such a happy and fun story thanks to her positive influence. She was one of those special people that are so rare on this earth.
I'm not going to tell you that she was perfect, because people have a habit of calling people perfect just because they have died. We had our fights and our glares, but who doesn't? The point is that I will soon learn to pave over the hollowness inside of me with the happy memories that she has given me. And eventually I will learn to keep her with me always, carved onto the stones of the memories we have created.
This is actually the essay that I used for my junior cert, and I did pretty well so I guess that is one Silver Lining...